Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wicked Wednesday (villains redux)

The Cahill Gang

The title came first—Town Tamer—though that’s not what the novel is now known by.

I saw a group of five riders coming into a town, and I knew they planned to take it over. Here’s a paragraph that tells the reader what kind of man Nate Cahill is.

The mist dripped off Cahill’s slicker and from the brim of his black Stetson. His sharp gaze picked up a comely woman in blue calico coming from a small building with Examiner painted on its window. Maybe she’d still be around when he owned the town. He’d see how she tasted then. Their eyes met – his cold and calculating, hers bold and forthright. Cahill raised a finger to his hat brim in salute. She looked away. He grinned.

The girl, a reporter for the Examiner, plays an important part, too.

Cahill is a hard man, and he knows how to run his gang well. He’s got a brother, though, who’s a sadist. Here’s what Cahill says about him:

An angry voice came through the thin walls. “He’s what? You’re jerking my leg. I’m the goldam owner of this goldam saloon.” Angry stomps marked Sims’s progress down the stairs. He burst into the room, a big man in gartered sleeves and suspenders. His belly hung over his waistband and jowls flapped at his neck. He held a Smith and Wesson in his right hand.
“Who the hell are you?” he shouted. The revolver pointed more or less at Cahill.
“I’m Nate Cahill, and this here’s my brother Wynn. Now before you get sudden, let me tell you about Wynn. He’s not like other people. You see, Wynn likes to hurt things. Cats. Dogs. Women. Men. Don’t matter much to him, long as they yowl.”

Then you get another look at what kind of person Wynn Cahill is a little farther into the first chapter.

Webber took a deep breath. “I’m the one with the badge, Cahill. This may be Bogtown, but it’s still part of Ponderosa, and I’m the law.”
Cahill smirked. “That so? You figure there’s some way to make me open that safe for you?”
“There is.” Webber eared back the hammers of the sawed-off shotgun, but the moment the marshal’s hand moved to the hammers, Wynn Cahill palmed his Colt and shot Webber just below the breastbone. Webber stumbled backwards. His dying fingers triggered the shotgun into the ceiling. He fell on his back, his head crashing on the hardwood floor.
The Cahills watched as the marshal tried to suck air into his punctured lungs while his dying heart pumped blood out his ruptured pulmonary artery into his chest cavity. His heels beat a weak tattoo on the floor; then he went limp.
“Damn,” Wynn said. “Why’d he have to die so quick?”

Isn’t he the kind of guy you love to hate? While Jake Cahill is coldblooded and calculating, younger brother Wynn gets his jiggers from hurting things. Still, these are tough men, so there’s not doubt in the reader’s mind (I hope) that it will take tough men to clean these vipers from Bogtown, Ponderosa’s underbelly.

The Cahills are villains people love to hate. Next month, I’ll talk about antagonists who think they are in the right.

OK. Now give me some comments about villains, and I’ll give one of the commenters a PDF of Guns of Ponderosa, the novel these scenes were taken from (I’d give you a signed copy, but I don’t want to send it all the way from Japan, cheap rascal that I am).


  1. If there is one thing that will make a hero worth his salt, it's a mean, deadly, horrible villain. The more gosh-awful the villain, the more the reader is looking for someone to step in and save the day. Of course, the opposite it true. If an author doesn't put a convincing villain in to oppose the hero, it will just seem like ther hero is beatin' down a starving puppy.
    Love villains.

  2. Great post, Charlie! You're so right--we have to have villains we love to hate. It's what keeps us reading on. I have as much fun creating my villains in my stories as I do with my heroes. Wynn Cahill sounds evil to the core. A villain has to be a worthy opponent of the hero or the story won't work. Loved your excerpts!

  3. Why do you think villains are successful fiction figures? Hannibal Lecter is probably one of the more famous villains, and positively spine-chilling. Wynn Cahill might not eat his victims, but if you fall into his trap, you'll suffer plenty. How much are we willing to suffer for our heroes?

  4. Don't know why the italicized portions bleed off the page to the left. Hope y'all can read the excerpts without tiring brains and eyes too much. I'll get in there and try to fix it.

  5. Charlie,
    I've seen on several of the loops today where people are having trouble with Blogger--all kinds of trouble. I know that your comments are down because of it, too. I have been able to comment today here, but some others have not. We will run your post again sometime in the future. I don't know what's going on with Blogger.

  6. I've had trouble the last couple days with blogger. I've posted several times to have it disappear. Great post!

  7. I wish I could remember the exact quote, but supposedly St. Augustine once said that there is no good man without a little bad in him, and vice versa.

    Leaving out psychopaths, of course.

  8. Shay, that's true, and while the villains will talk about next Wicked Wednesday have to be dealt with, they as a family are not the criminals that the Cahill Gang are.

  9. I'm not much good at pulling names from a hat. In this case, I'd like to give PDF copies of Guns of Ponderosa to Sarah and Shay. Could you please contact me at so I can send you the book? Thank you.


  10. Sorry, been out of town and am just catching up. I enjoyed the post, Charlie.


  11. I am so happy to have won a copy of your book, Gund of the Ponderosa, Charlie. Thank you so much. I'll contact you with my email address.